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Be on alert for tomato russet mites

Microscopic tomato russet mite is becoming more common in UK glasshouses, feeding on stems, leaves and fruit, causing damage that renders produce unsalable.

Microscopic tomato russet mite is becoming more common in UK glasshouses, feeding on stems, leaves and fruit, causing damage that renders produce unsalable.

Jasper Hubert, consultant at Koppert Biological Systems, provides advice on controlling the pest at this key time in the season.

“Tomato russet mites can go unnoticed because they cannot be seen with the naked eye, meaning an infestation can quickly build up unless controlled,” he says.

“Chemical control is recommended to protect tomato crops, as biological control measures are limited.

“However, often, tomato russet mite populations are reduced, but not eliminated. They hide within crevices and can quickly bounce back to high numbers once treated.

“Therefore, a carefully planned integrated pest management (IPM) strategy is important to keep on top of the pest.

“Alternating actives, such as sulphur and maltodextrin, in insecticide applications, can help reduce resistance as part of an effective IPM strategy.

“However, it’s important to pay close attention to the timing of applications, as some actives can have a negative effect on vital macro-biologicals, such as parasitic wasps,” adds Mr Hubert.

Top tips

Mr Hubert provides his top tips to reduce the spread of tomato russet mites:

  • Quarantine infected plants
  • Do not start work in infected areas
  • Wear protective clothing that can be removed and disposed of once out of the infected environment
  • Have a thorough clean-out and implement a robust hygiene process between crops
  • Ensure there is no movement of equipment from packhouses back to greenhouses

Further information on tomato russet mites can be found in AHDB’s factsheet.

For more information on controlling tomato russet mites, visit the Certis website, or contact us.